Slop-fest: Shoddy late-inning defense by Tigers gift-wraps win for Twins
Detroit — The Tigers drew the third-largest crowd of the season to Comerica Park Saturday night, 34,205, and treated it to some pretty bad baseball.
The Minnesota Twins took advantage of a batch of shaky defensive plays late in the game, scoring six straight runs (only two were earned) to beat the Tigers 8-4.
"I don't like the way that game went at all," Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. "I'm glad we hung in there. We made them go to their big boy (closer Jhoan Duran) at the end and maybe that will help us tomorrow.
"But we didn't do great. We created some innings for them."
It was a 2-1 game when the Twins came to bat in the top of the seventh inning.
Lefty Tyler Alexander, getting an early call after starter Michael Pineda left with triceps tightness after three innings, shut the Twins down on one hit through the middle innings and another lefty, Andrew Chafin, was on for the seventh.
Very little went right for the home team after that.
Left-handed hitting Alex Kiriloff started the inning with a two-strike, opposite-field single down the third-base line. Jose Miranda followed, hitting a ground ball to the left of third baseman Jeimer Candelario.
Candelario tried to make a diving stop and deflected the ball past shortstop Javier Báez, who was in position to field the ball. That was scored a single.
Next up, pinch-hitter Kyle Garlick hit another ball to Candelario’s left. This one eluded him completely — E-5, bases loaded.
"I don't know if it's mental with him or not," Hinch said of Candelario, who had a tough defensive day in Oakland on Thursday, too. "But the second or third one tonight, it kind of piles on and he tried to do too much.
"I think you can attribute those to the frustration of a few different plays tonight."
One run scored on a sacrifice fly and it looked like the Tigers were going to minimize the damage. Right-handed reliever Joe Jimenez got Gary Sanchez to ground out for the second out and then induced Luis Arraez to hit a foul pop up down the left-field line.
Left fielder Akil Baddoo had a long run but seemed to get to the ball as he was sliding on his knees. He closed his glove too soon and the ball popped out.
"I was sliding and in the midst of me sliding, I was trying to catch it and avoid the fence or anything else," Baddoo said. "I got to it. It was just a matter of me coming up with it."
With new life, Arraez poked a two-run single to shallow right-center. It was his third hit of the night.
"I was trying to save those two runs there," Baddoo said. "Unfortunate I didn't come up with it but I was able to get another play and I capitalized on it."
Baddoo saved two more runs in the inning. He made a well-timed leap at the wall to take a two-run homer away from Carlos Correa. It would have been Correa’s second homer of the night.
The Tigers were still in a gifting mood in the eighth. Right-hander Will Vest created a fast bases-loaded, no-out mess. He walked the leadoff hitter and gave up two singles.
Again, it looked like he might minimize the damage. He struck out Miranda and got Gilberto Celestino to hit a ground ball to second baseman Jonathan Schoop. Schoop threw home to get the force out, but catcher Tucker Barnhart dropped his throw.
It ended up being another three-run inning. Six runs, four unearned, in two innings.
Insurmountable. Even against the Twins' bullpen.
"We try our best each and every day and sometimes it doesn't come out in our favor," Baddoo said. "But you come in the next day and you go after it again."
The Tigers scored in the sixth on a triple by Riley Greene (who nearly missed second base) and a single by Báez. That was the first run they’d scored off Twins starter Joe Ryan in 13 innings. He’d shut them out over seven innings on one hit and nine strikeouts earlier this season.
They took advantage of three walks and a wild pitch to score three more in the eighth, getting RBI singles by Miguel Cabrera and Harold Castro. For Cabrera, it was his 1,839th career RBI, tying him for 13th all-time.
And, of course, because it’s 2022, the Tigers might have lost the services of yet another starting pitcher.
Pineda, coming off the worst start of his big-league career (eight runs in two innings at Cleveland July 16), needed 55 pitches to get through three innings Saturday and left abruptly with tightness in his right triceps.
"Sometimes I feel a little bad but then I warm up and it goes away," said Pineda, who gave up two runs, including a 426-foot home run to Correa. "Tonight it was a little different. Tonight it just got worse and worse. In the third inning it felt really tight. I couldn't finish my pitches."
The Tigers have scheduled an MRI for Sunday and Hinch isn't optimistic Pineda will evade the injured list.
"He's pitched through pain before so when he tells us about it, it means it's really bothersome," Hinch said. "In the evaluation, it's right behind the elbow in the triceps area."
This was Pineda’s fifth start back after missing a month and a half with a broken finger on his pitching hand. He said he'd been feeling that tightness for a while, especially when he throws his slider.
"It's a little frustrating," Pineda said. "We're here to pitch and help the team. I worked so hard to come back from the finger and now to feel like this, it's very frustrating for me."
Hinch said Alexander would be an option to replace Pineda in the rotation.
"I personally don't think Michael makes his next start," Hinch said. "But I'm not a doctor."